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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

18 militants killed in clashes in Pakistani tribal region

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Islamabad, March 24, IRNA -- Pakistani security forces have killed 18 militants in north western tribal region, official sources said on Saturday.

The attack took place at a paramilitary check post in Khadizai area of Orakzai tribal region. Three soldiers were also killed in the incident.

'Three soldiers were martyred when Taliban armed with guns and rockets launched an attack overnight,' a senior military officer said.

Another official said Pakistani security forces retaliated and killed more than 18 militants, but there was no independent confirmation of the toll.

Khadizai is located in Upper Orakzai most of which is in Taliban hands and is the scene of frequent clashes between security forces and militants.

Orakzai Agency, the lone tribal region of Pakistan which does not have borders with Afghanistan, had been once the stronghold of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan or TTP.

The security forces had established posts in different parts of Orakzai agency after expelling the militants of most of their former base. But they are still hiding in several remote and hilly areas and launch attacks on the forces.

Many TTP leaders also took shelter in Orakzai after they were expelled as the result of major offensive by Pakistani forces in South Waziristan tribal region in 2009.

The TTP started activities in parts of Orakzai agency in 2008. Orakzai had been relatively peaceful tribal region before the Taliban activities there.

Taliban have also carried out attacks on the Shiite Muslims and pro-government tribal elders in Orakzai agency and have killed hundreds of them over the past few years.

Local tribesmen have also formed ‘Lashkar’ or private militia against the Taliban who are supporting the security forces.

**1412
Islamic Republic News Agency/IRNA NewsCode: 80049947



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